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469 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram ES10 WASHINGTON, 18 April 1942, 12.08 p.m.


I received your P.M.46 [1] after the preparation of the other
telegrams which you will receive along with this. [2]

(2) I have completed arrangements for leaving on Wednesday. If you
will send a telegram immediately after the conference with
MacArthur Monday, I can not only use its contents here but can
still proceed to London in accordance with the plan. The Council
meets on Tuesday.

(3) You state in para.2 that it should be our objective to obtain
the assent of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff, the Combined
Chiefs of Staff and the United States Chiefs of Staff to
recommendations which are to be forwarded after your conference.

(4) Para. 10 of directive which is now in force [3] provides

(a) The Combined Chiefs of Staff will exercise a general
jurisdiction over grand strategic policy and over such related
factors as are necessary for proper implementation, including the
allocation of forces and war materials, and
(b) The Joint United States Chiefs of Staff will exercise
jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to operational strategy.

The Chief of Staff, United States Army [4], will act as the
executive agency for joint United States Chiefs of Staff. All
instructions to you will be issued by or through him.

(5) Seeing that the authority of Combined Chiefs of Staff is so
fully recognised, I suggest that the most convenient and regular
procedure in accordance with the directive would be
representations or recommendations by MacArthur (who would, of
course, emphasize any aspects you desire) to General Marshall,
either as the executive agency for the joint United States Chiefs
of Staff, or through General Marshall to the Combined Chiefs of

(6) Simultaneously Australian representative on the Pacific
Council might be advised of your views and those of the supreme
commanders, particularly to enable all political and non-military
aspects to be discussed at the Council or privately.

(7) I therefore recommend simultaneous telegrams to Marshall from
MacArthur and to me from yourself The matter can then be examined
and discussed with the Chiefs of Staff and if necessary brought
before the Pacific Council.

(8) In para.3 of P.M.42 [5] you refer to the building up of land,
air and local naval forces in Australia to a point where they can
stand without the immediate support of the United States Fleet,
etc. I have already discussed the reinforcement of naval forces in
the South-West Pacific area and have assurances from Admiral Kings
that this is the objective to which he is working, but he insists
that it must be related to the broad strategic plan and above all
to physical ability to supply additional naval forces which are
dangerously deficient in other areas-see my advices regarding the
meeting of the British Chiefs of Staff here last week. [7] My own
conception of the position is that Sir Guy Royle's [8] analysis
and plan are unanswerable, but that persons to be convinced are
mainly in London, not Washington.

(9) We have vigorously followed up the supply of aircraft and war
materials. Only today I have received definite advice from the
President [9] regarding aircraft position of United States Forces
in Australia. Including aircraft already in Australia and en
route, United States have now allocated 915 first-line aircraft
(and these are to be maintained at proper strength) to United
States Forces to operate in Australian area. This number is made
up of (a) bombers heavy 80; (b) bombers medium 141; (c) bombers
light 57; (d) pursuit planes 320; (e) patrol naval planes 12,
totalling 610 plus reserves of fifty percent of each type
totalling 305 planes, or making aggregate of 9l5 planes. Of
pursuit planes, [over] [10] 120 have already been assigned to
equip Australian units and of medium bombers 20 are to be sent to
New Caledonia and 20 to Fiji with a reserve of 10 in each area.

These New Caledonia and Fiji units are to act as supporting units
for Australia in case of emergency.

(10) The above allocation (excluding 120 pursuit planes) is quite
independent of aircraft for [the R.A.A.F.].

The fact is then, until the MacArthur directive was finalized, the
United States authorities had full and direct obligations only in
relation to the United States units in Australia.

(11) With the acceptance of the directive, MacArthur is formally
responsible to his superiors for the whole theatre. He now has the
right and duty of demanding what, in his opinion, is necessary to
equip all air, land and sea forces in the theatre so as to carry
out the strategy as laid down in the directive. [11] I suggest
that his appreciation of April 4th contained in your P.M.21 [12]
should now be re-affirmed or revised in the light of the directive
and definite allocations set out in para. (9) above. In short he
and General Brett [13] both fully understand [that], pursuing the
logistical approach, they will requisition for overall
requirements of South-West Pacific (including Australian Forces)
in accordance with strategy laid down in the directive, If this
course is boldly and consistently pursued, their claims will be

(12) Returning to your cable, P.M.46, the essential strategy is
well summed up in your own words: 'To ensure the security of
Australia as a base for operations and to marshal that strength
which will be essential for future offensive action'. This is in
strict accord with the strategy laid down in the directive. The
steady flow of supplies turns mainly on persistent representation
by Supreme Commander to General Marshall with occasional pressure
on political level which must, however, be applied most delicately
and prudently; for nothing could be more fatal to our position in
Washington than pressure not based upon accepted military

(13) Your P.M.47 [14] (repeating your message to Bruce) [on the]
necessity of a review of naval strategy generally may prove to be
an important starting point in discussions which must take place
shortly in London. There must also be discussions there on the
proposed offensive, on the question of improving the machinery for
munitions assignment, on the proposal to obtain from Russia land
bases from which air attacks against Japan might be launched and
on other matters of high importance.

(14) Going on to London will be an ordeal to most of us
particularly in view of the unsettled position in France and
Portugal. Indeed it is stated here today that air transport may
become more difficult in the immediate future. The mission has
practically completed its task here and the best course now is to
hurry on to London and return here later for the final follow-up.

Fortunately, the arrival of General Smart [15] should make it
easier for General MacArthur's requisitions to obtain approval
from the Chiefs of Staff, [near to whom I have arranged to place

(15) I therefore propose that the existing arrangements to go on
to London should be adhered to. Luckily it will also be possible
for any recommendations arising from your conferences with General
MacArthur to be discussed by me here first, and subsequently in
London. For that purpose it is necessary that a telegram should be
sent immediately the Conference is concluded.

1 Dispatched 17 April. On file AA:A981, War 33, attachment C. It
advised that Curtin would be holding an important conference with
General MacArthur (Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West
Pacific Area) to discuss 'the fundamental basis of the strategical
appreciation' of the Australian Chiefs of Staff and the comments
of the U.K. Chiefs of Staff on it(see Document 465). Curtin
stressed that it was essential 'to ensure the security of
Australia as a base for operations and to marshal that strength
which will be essential for future offensive action'. Evatt was
instructed to remain in Washington until after receipt of a
further cablegram from Curtin in order to arrange any follow-up
with the Chiefs of Staff Committees in Washington and the Pacific
War Council.

2 See cablegrams ES3, ES6, ES7 and ES8 (On file AA:A4764, 2); ES5
(Oil file AA:MP1217, Box 474, Cablegrams to and from Dr Evatt);

ES9 (on file AA: A981, War 41B); and ES4 (Document 468).

3 This refers to the directive given to MacArthur, a copy of which
is contained in part 4 of Evatt's cablegram S22 of 3/4 April on
file AA:A981, War 33, attachment C.

4 General G. C. Marshall.

5 See Document 465, note 1.

6 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy.

7 Not found.

8 Chief of the Naval Staff.

9 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

10 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 233.

11 On 23 April, in a letter to Brig Gen W. B. Smith (Secrctary,
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington), Evatt again emphasised
MacArthur's right to demand forces and munitions for the purpose
of accomplishing the mission assigned to him by the directive. A
copy of the letter is on the file cited in note 10.

12 Document 456.

13 Commander, Allied Air Forces in the South-West Pacific Area.

14 See Document 467, note 1.

15 Head of Australian Military Mission to Combined Chiefs of
Staff, Washington.

[AA:A4764, 2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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